Like water running down a hill, the US Soccer Federation took the easy way out when it re-hired Bob Bradley for a second World Cup campaign. The better choice would have been to let him go – and pursue other opportunities, perhaps at Aston Villa or Fulham – and move forward with a different manager and, perhaps, a different philosophy. But it didn’t, perhaps because it is, in fact, afraid of change.
The US performance in South Africa was decent, but below expectations. It should have advanced past Ghana and into the quarter-finals, because that was an eminently winnable game. Although Bradley’s teams have reputations for preparation and fitness, in reality, only one of those is true.
Bradley needs to shoulder the blame for his tactical errors. The most recent is, of course, starting Ricardo Clark instead of Maurice Edu or, really, anyone else. His substitution patterns were unreadable (which, to a degree, is fine) but he clearly didn’t trust some players. Similarly, he plays his favorites too much and is too reluctant to make changes, either in personnel or in tactics. In short, he and the USSF are made for each other: overly cautious and unwilling to rock the boat.
I think this is a mistake, and I’ll likely be proven right. The USSF should have made a bolder choice.
UPDATE, 22 SEPTEMBER 2010: Grant Wahl at SI reports that Jürgen Klinsmann had all but agreed to become the new US coach. The unspoken reason that the deal didn’t get done was because of power. Apparently, Klinsmann wanted too much for the USSF’s liking.